IN Unitarian worship, we have readings from many sources and many faiths - religious and secular, old and new - but one of my favourites was first read to our congregation by our previous minister, the Rev John Midgley.

Called 'Love and the Cabby' by Art Buchwald, it tells of a man trying to bring love back to New York City.

His friend thinks he is crazy when he says to a cabdriver – “Thank you for the ride. You did a superb job of driving."

The cab-driver says “You a wise guy or something?” but the man assures him that he genuinely admired the way he kept his cool in the city. The driver grunts and drives off.

The man explains to his cynical friend “I believe I have made the taxi driver's day. Suppose he has 20 fares. He's going to be nice to those 20 fares because someone was nice to him. Those fares in turn will be kinder to their employees or shop-keepers or waiters or even their own families. Eventually the goodwill could spread to at least 1000 people. Now that isn't bad, is it?" he asked.

The friend is sceptical. “I'm aware that the system isn't foolproof”, the man says, “so I might deal with 10 different people today. If, out of 10, I can make 3 happy, then eventually I can indirectly influence the attitudes of 3000 more."

I love this story! If we all went around being nice to each other like that, the effect would spread like ripples on a pond, and the world would be a much happier place. On the basis of this, I told a lady on the bus how nice her hair looked. Her face lit up! I reckon that my comment made her feel just a bit better. It is a great story and, in these days of suspicion and hate, one we could all take to heart to make the world a better and kinder place.

Carolyn Jones (Hon. Sec., Altrincham Interfaith Group and member of Dunham Road Unitarian Chapel).